SQL Server Reporting Services Tip: How to capitalize just the first letter of text?

Attention to detail is a key in creating SSRS reports/dashboards that look like a work of a professional; To that end, here’s a tip: How to capitalize the first letter in your string? In other words, how to Camel Case the Text?

Here’s the function that you can use in your SSRS Expressions:


StrConv("hello world",3)

OR

StrConv("hello world",vbProperCase)
Input Function Output
hello world StrConv(“hello world”,3) Hello World

I hope that helps!

Back to basics: Design your Business Intelligence system to have lowest level data even if it’s not asked!

Here’s a scenario:

A Business Intelligence (BI) system for Sales is being developed at a company. Here are the events that occur:

1) Based on the requirements, It is documented that the Business needs to analyze Sales numbers by product, month, customer & employee

2) While designing the system IT learns that the data is stored at each Invoice Level but since the requirements document doesn’t say anything about having details down to invoice level, they decide to aggregate data before bringing in their system.

3) They develop the BI system within the time frame and sends it to business for data validation.

4) Business Analysts starts looking at the BI system and finds some numbers that don’t look right for a few products and need to see Invoices for those products to make sure that the data is right so they ask IT to give them invoice level data.

5) IT realizes that even though business had not requested Invoice Level data explicitly but they do NEED the lowest level data! They realize it’s crucial to pass data validation. Also, they talk with their business analysts and found out that they may  sometimes need to drill down to lowest level data to find insights that may be hidden at the aggregate level.

6) so IT decides to re-work on their solution. This increases the timeline & budget set for the project. Not only that they have lost the opportunity to gain the confidence of business by missing the budget and timeline.

7) They learn to “Design BI system to have the lowest level data even if it’s not asked!” and decides to never make this mistake again in the future!

This concludes the post and it’s important to include lowest level data in your BI system even if it’s not explicitly requested – this will save you time & build your credibility as a Business Intelligence developer/architect.

How does Internet of Things (#IoT) impact data professionals?

Internet enabled computers to be connected with each other.

Internet enabled Mobile Devices to be connected with each other.

Now, Internet will be used to enable physical things to be connected with each other. This is what is called “Internet of things” (IoT).

So what happens?

since more devices are connected with internet – we will able to generate more data! This is usually good if there’s a business vision around how to make sense of data to increase efficiency of all these things.

Here’s a nice case study from Microsoft (focus on the business case – the things in this case is “elevator” to drive reliability)

 

This is all good news for data professionals! There will be increased demand for professionals who can help businesses make sense of data generated via IoT.

Also beware of the “hype” around this technology. It’s important to take incremental steps to achieve the vision – Instead of trying to analyze data from ALL devices in your organization, start with one physical thing that matter the most for your organization or start with data that you have and take incremental steps to spread data culture in your organization!

Now that Big Data has become a mainstream word in IT and business, we have a new buzzword to learn/talk about IoT – but remember it’s all about making sense of data and your skills would be more valuable than ever!

How to Configure SQL Server Analysis services’s Action to Open an URL?

SSAS Actions are powerful! You can open web pages, open sql server reporting services, customize drill through reports among other things using actions. In this post, you will see a common requirement from users to navigate to a corporate intranet site from the cube – and usually it needs to be dynamic.

For example, user is interested in seeing the Order Entry Page hosted on the corporate intranet site by using the Order ID from the SSAS cube.

Here’s how you can set it up:

1. Open SSAS Cube in SQL Server Data Tools:

2. Navigate to Actions tab:

ssas url action analysis services sql server web page

3. Here you’ll see three types of action that you can configure

a. Standard (this have five subtypes including the URL action)

b. Drill Through

c. report action

4. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s focus on standard action:

ssas url action analysis services sql server web page5. Once you click on the “New Action” it will ask you to configure the action:

a. Name: Enter the desired name here

b. Target Type: In this case, Order ID is an attribute member but you will have to choose appropriate target type for your scenario

c. Target Object: In this case, it’s something like [Order].[Order ID] – in your case, you’ll have to choose an appropriate target object

d. Type: URL in this case (also don’t forget to check books online for what other types can do as well)

e. Action Expression: the format of the Action Expression if it’s driven by a parameter would go something like:

"http://servername/site/Pages/OrderRef.aspx?Search&ID="+[Order].[Order ID].currentmember.member_caption

f. Additional Properties: I like to set the Caption to clearly indicate the user that they are opening the “Order Form for Order ID 123999″. You can do that by setting the caption property. The format goes like this:

"Open Order Entry page for Order ID: "+[Order].[Order ID].currentmember.member_caption

Also set the caption is MDX to True if you are using above format.

That’s about it, don’t forget to test it (after deploying the cube) using excel or other end-user tool of your choice. In the Pivot Table, use the Order ID attribute in Row/Column labels > Right Click on any attribute member of Order ID attribute > Additional Actions > The caption with dynamic order id should show by here for users to click and navigate to the specified URL:

excel ssas url action analysis services sql server web page

How to create an Average Aggregation in SQL Server Analysis services?

Problem:

How do create a measure that does an average over a field from fact table? You can’t find it the “usage” property while trying to create a new measure:

SQL Server Analysis Services Average Aggregation

Solution:

Before i show you the solution, I want you to know that this is a Level 100 solution to get you started – so depending on the complexity of your cube the calculated measure that you are about to create may or may not perform well – if it does not perform well, you might have to dig a little deeper and here’s one blog post to get you started: URL

OK, back to topic! Here are the steps.

SCENARIO: you need average of Sales Amount.

1. Create a SUM OF SALES AMOUNT measure

Steps: Open cube > Cube Structure > Right click on Measure Group > New Measure > Usage: “SUM” > Source Table: Pick your Fact Table. In this case let’s say it’s Fact Sales > Source Column: In this case, lets say it’s SALES AMOUNT

2. Create a COUNT OF SALES measure (important: row count vs. non empty count – this is not a developer’s choice, a business user needs to define that)

Steps: Open cube > Cube Structure > Right click on Measure Group > New Measure > Usage: count of rows OR count of non empty values (again this is not developer’s choice, a business user needs to define this) > Source Table: Pick your Fact Table. In this case let’s say it’s Fact Sales > Source Column: In this case, lets say it’s SALES AMOUNT

3. Create a Calculated Measure that equals (SUM OF SALES/COUNT OF SALES)

3a. Switch to Calculations section > create a new calculated member:

SSAS Analysis services new calculated measure

3b. Complete Name, Format String & Associated Measure Group. For the Expression, use the following expression. Please use this as a starting point for your measure:

IIF([measures].[COUNT OF SALES]=0,0,[measures].[SUM OF SALES AMOUNT]/[measures].[COUNT OF SALES])

4. Before you test it, if you don’t need the SUM OF SALES AMOUNT and COUNT OF SALES measures than don’t forget to hide them!

Conclusion:

In this post, you saw how to define a measure with average aggregation is SSAS.

SQL Server Analysis services warning: “The name specified for the attribute relationship differs from the name of the related attribute”

In this post we will see how to address the SSAS warning message: “The name specified for the attribute relationship differs from the name of the related attribute”, it’s not a critical waning but it’s always good to make sure that these warnings are addressed before going to production.

Usually this happens because attribute names were renamed after the relationships between attributes had already been defined. 

To fix the warning messages:

1. Go to Attribute Relationships section for the dimension.

2. In the lower right corner, you should find list of relationships.The ones that cause the warning would have a blue squiggly line with a warning symbol on the arrow (example shown below):

ssas attribute relationships cube dimension3. Right Click on the Relationship > Go to Properties > Change the Name property to the new renamed name that you gave to the attribute – it should be what’s shown in the Attribute property.

ssas analysis services attribute relantionship propertiesThat’s it, this should fix the ssas warning message now since the name specified for attribute relationship would now match related attribute.

SQL Server Analysis services warning: “The name specified for the attribute relationship differs from the name of the related attribute”

In this post we will see how to address the SSAS warning message: “The name specified for the attribute relationship differs from the name of the related attribute”, it’s not a critical waning but it’s always good to make sure that these warnings are addressed before going to production.

Usually this happens because attribute names were renamed after the relationships between attributes had already been defined. 

To fix the warning messages:

1. Go to Attribute Relationships section for the dimension.

2. In the lower right corner, you should find list of relationships.The ones that cause the warning would have a blue squiggly line with a warning symbol on the arrow (example shown below):

ssas attribute relationships cube dimension3. Right Click on the Relationship > Go to Properties > Change the Name property to the new renamed name that you gave to the attribute – it should be what’s shown in the Attribute property.

ssas analysis services attribute relantionship propertiesThat’s it, this should fix the ssas warning message now since the name specified for attribute relationship would now match related attribute.

SSAS Joining Facts at different granularity to a single dimension:

Problem:

You have a Fact Sales and Fact Target in your data mart. Fact Sales stores values are product sub category level and fact target stores values at product category level because business sets “sales targets” at a higher (rolled up) level. How do you connect it to a single dimension at different granularity?

Solution:

Here’s the table structure, I just made this up for the demo purpose:

Fact Sales Table

1. Fact Sales

Fact Target

2. Fact Target

Product Sub Category Table

3. Dim product sub category

so, you went ahead and tried testing by creating relationship’s to single dimension at different granularity in the cube:

SSAS Dimension Usage RelationshipsNote how the relationship was specified between Fact Target and Product Sub Category Dimension – it’s joined at a different granularity compared to fact sales. it would be help you from a performance standpoint if the fields that you are using to join the fact and dimension is an int.

SSAS Relationship Dimension Usage Regular

So, you browse the cube and here’s what you get:

Excel SSAS Analysis Services

Note the problem: the target values are being repeated for sub categories but that shouldn’t be happening, right? that’s misleading to business users…ok, to recap what we need to do here: hide target values for subcategories since targets are not set at that granularity. but we do need to show them if the business users pulls in product category.

So here’s a measure group property that comes to the rescue!

Go to Fact Target Measure group’s property > Set IgnoreUnRelatedDimension to False

SSAS Ignore Unrelated Dimension Property

deploy and browse your cube again, here’s what you will see now:

Excel SSAS Analysis Services Pivot Table

That’s it! you have successfully joined facts at different granularity to a single dimension.

Achievement Unlocked: Tableau Desktop 8 Qualified Associate!

To test my Tableau knowledge, I attempted the Tableau product certification and got the “Tableau Desktop 8 Qualified Associate” certificate.

Tableau 8 Qualified associate Certificate paras doshi

 

SSIS: Using Data Profiling Task to check the candidate key profile of unknown data source(s)

As a part of Business Intelligence projects, we spend a significant amount in extracting, transforming and loading data from source systems. So it’s always helpful to know as much as you can about the data sources like NULLS, keys, statistics among other things. One of the things that I like to do if the data is unknown is to make sure that I get the candidate keys correct to make sure the key used can uniquely identify the rows in the data. It’s really helpful if you do this upfront because it would avoid a lot of duplicate value errors in your projects.

So here’s a quick tutorial on how you can check the candidate key profile using data profiling task in SSIS, You need to perform two main tasks:
1. Generate the xml file using the Data profiling task in SSIS
2. View the content of the xml file using the Data Profile Viewer Tool or using the Open Profile Viewer option in the Data Profiling task editor in SSIS.

Here are the steps:
1a. Open SQL Server Data Tools (Visual Studio/BIDS) and the SSIS project type
1b. Bring in Data Profiling Task on Control Flow
1c. Open the Data Profiler Task editor and configure the destination folder that the tasks uses to create the XML file. You can either create a new connection or use an existing one. If you use an existing connection, make sure that you are setting the OverwriteDestination property to True if you want the file to be overwritten at the destination.

1 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

1d. Click on Quick Profile to configure the data source for the data profiler task

2 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

1e. In the quick profile form, you’ll need to select the connection, table/view and also specify what you to need to computer. For candidate key profile, make sure that the candidate key profile box is checked.

3 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

1f. Run the Task and a XML file should be placed at the destination you specified in step 1C.

Now, It’s time to view what profiler captured.

2a. you can open “Data Profile Viewer” by searching for its name in the start button.

4 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

2b. once it opens up, click on open and browse to the xml file generated by the data profiling task.

5 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

2c. once the file opens up, you can the candidate key profiles.

6 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

2d. Alternatively, You can also open the data profile viewer from the “Data Profiling Task” in SSIS. Go to the Editor > Open Profile Viewer:

7 SSIS Data Profiling Task Data Cleaning Candidate Key

Conclusion:
In this post, you saw how to profile data using the Data Profiling Task in SSIS.